current affairs

Trump: Not silent, but deadly

Written by James Bruce

Trump by Name, Trump by Nature: But is this president all fart and no poo?

Since the initial explosive stink that Donald Trump’s electoral victory caused for many, the pungent smell of disbelief seems to have increased rather than dissipated. After spending a year in America, I noticed how the subject of Mr Trump was persistently at the forefront of people’s minds as he remained at the centre of the media’s attention through his consistent controversial acts. Mr Trump seems to treat his presidential role as a ‘Reality TV’ saga, where the more attention he can draw towards himself, whether positive or negative, remains of sole importance regardless of the public’s moral or political expectations. With a complexion that resembles an oversized Umpa-Lumpa with severe jaundice, and frequent spasmodic hand impulses during his speeches that make it seem as though he has some form of physical Tourettes; Mr Trump uses each moment in the camera’s limelight to create a performance that he knows will gain a reaction, whether good or bad.

Trump’s New Sign Language- Trump is pictured, displaying his signature erratic and seemingly involuntary arm flails.

However, worryingly, the attention he craves and gains by remaining the main focus of the media’s attention is purely there as a smoke-screen for the things his political team can enact whilst public attention is distracted. If there is a new thing to focus on then the media’s concentration will change; thus, this allows for public memory to slowly forget his previous misdemeanours in the face of new usually more trivial ones.

For instance, when Mr Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on May 10, he gave Russia classified intel that compromised an undercover Israeli spy inside ISIS. The following day, Trump signed an executive order to investigate voter fraud in the 2016 election; hence, shifting the media’s focus onto a new topic, and also the sacking of FBI director James Comey which occurred the very day before Mr Trump’s Russian information scandal. Instead of silence, Mr Trump alternatively uses an all-out barrage of deafening noise on all media platforms in order to smother the impact of huge political scandals or humiliations. He is one of the first, if not THE first President to connect with the populace through the active utilisation of other media platforms. More specifically, ‘Twitter’ is his selected rhetorical weapon of attack. Mr Trump bombards the ‘Twittersphere’ with continual streams of emotive and emphatic statements, capitalising words ungrammatically solely to lure the reader’s attention to his points more effectively.

The language is simplistic, contains references to his schedule, and also generates names for political or non-political targets, which trends and re-brands them; subsequently, altering public opinion and their image too. For what many people would love to laugh at as a melodramatic tangerine with a quiff, he is actually not as ridiculous as he seems, and behind the whacky façade is a well-calculated business professional who knows how to spin public relations.

Trump Threatens to Follow Through: Like a human combine harvester, Trump likes to spurt out a diarrheic stream of verbal manure.

Evidently, Mr Trump is potentially the most divisive, manipulative, and controversial American President that the world has ever seen. Although previous presidents may have also manipulated the media and political climate as divisively and controversially, no-one has ever done it on such a visible and public scale. Mr Trump’s controversy is something that he seems to pride himself on and uses to his advantage in order to fuel further controversial actions. He has made the ridiculous normal; therefore, the public has adjusted to his outrageous absurdities and takes each new one as a distraction to the last. What goes on behind closed doors is usually the most feared factor for the public, but now this feared danger is what is directly in front of our eyes. Yet, its normalcy has affected us to disregard it as dangerous anymore. The usually hidden has become the constantly seen, and our ability to acknowledge this and still do nothing about it is what is most disquieting. Once you see something that you hate and become used to its occurrence, you become more willing to accept its presence. Thus, this is Mr Trump’s most worrying weapon: his ability to essentially do what he wants without extreme public backlash. For example, when he boasted about grabbing women by the genitalia as if stardom made courtship a game of snatch and grab, yet, he was still inaugurated as President months later.

Due to this media-savvy manipulation, Mr Trump’s presidency is still being praised and supported by many people. Recent statistics (Aug 2nd), of likely or registered voters, show that when popularity polls on Mr Trump are averaged, 43.2% of people approve of him compared to the 52.3% of people who disapprove. Although more disapprove, this is still far higher than you would expect when observing the media coverage of scandals and blunders throughout the year. Plus, 4.5% were undecided. Furthermore, according to a recent Gallup Poll, Mr Trump’s support among the Republican Party at the 500-day mark of his presidency is even more encouraging; it sits at 87%, second only to George W Bush’s 96%, which came post-9/11.

Thus, we must look at some of the President’s positives and negatives throughout his presidency so far in order to fully adjudge whether he has been a success or not. He may appear as a child-like buffoon out for fame and power, but does this even matter if the country is benefitting from it?

Trump – positive President or terrible tyrant?

Firstly, let’s look at some of the more positive aspects of Mr Trump’s presidency so far. The economy is one of his major successes to date. Not only have unemployment rates dropped to 4.1% (a 17-year low), as 2.1 million jobs have been created so far, but specifically African-American unemployment rates have stooped to 6.8% which is an all-time low in American history and goes against the typical racist white-supremacist line that Mr Trump is associated with. It doesn’t stop there either, consumer and small business confidence has boomed, and the stock market was on a new high until he recently began a hard-line trade policy. Evidently, the statistics do not lie, and we should give Mr Trump praise for overseeing the rise of an American economy as he predicted it would. However, we should take into consideration that the economy was improving throughout the entire Barack Obama administration; thus, much of the economic benefits the country has seen has to be partly associated with Mr Obama’s efforts and not just Mr Trumps.

Secondly, in terms of tax reform and the courts, Mr Trump has overseen an overhaul in its legislature. He enacted the most substantive change to US tax law in 16 years that the Republicans had been desiring for decades. Consequently, this historic tax and regulatory reform unleashed three consecutive quarters of above 3% growth and seemingly proved that Mr Obama’s blanket of regulations may have been smothering the economy as opposed to aiding it. Furthermore, he combined these reforms with changes in the court system too. Mr Trump installed a new majority of conservative judges in the Supreme Court and is in the process of appointing many new young conservative judges in the Federal Appeals Court. Although this may be seen as a negative by Democrats, it shows how he has worked hard to improve his party’s influence, which has, in turn, benefitted his opportunities to pass more Republican-backed bills as a President.

One of his most controversial, but arguably most successful areas, has been foreign policy. His hard-line with North Korea achieved an apparent temporary peace between America and North Korea and also potentially helped with North and South Korea’s recent positive peace-seeking negotiations. What was predicted to be a nuclear holocaust, due to Mr Trump’s intensely inflammatory language (i.e. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”), ended in a communion of peace and progress. Thus, we must accept and praise his hard-line tactics as ultimately a successful ploy that no other political world-leader was prepared to enforce. In addition, his no-nonsense approach managed to gain the US an additional $12 billion from NATO towards collective security, taking some of the financial and military pressure off of the United States.

Bar economic foreign success, he has also not been shy in exercising his military powers. In Syria, he initiated missile strikes on Syrian air bases after Bashar Al-Assad utilised a toxic nerve agent on his people; ordered troops to press harder in driving Islamic State terrorists from their strongholds (e.g. he used the ‘MOAB’ or ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on one base); and he appointed an extra 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan as he felt Mr Obama’s process of withdrawal would prove disastrous.

Trump’s ‘Mother of All Bombs’ prepared to be grabbed by the military posse surrounding it.

Plus, he even threatened to cut off aid to Pakistan unless they do more to support the US fight against Islamic militants. Consequently, it’s hard to denounce Mr Trump’s efforts in the fight against terrorism as he has delivered on a promise that he made adamant throughout his presidential campaign. Therefore, we must give him some credit for his massive achievements in the global realm.

However, his foreign policy moves are not all to be regarded optimistically. In December 2017, Mr Trump announced that the US views Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which for many Republicans was a positive move, but for others was an entirely controversial statement to make considering the efforts for a peace process with Palestine. His point can arguably be seen as correct, but it is his inflammatory approach that makes it so controversial. Likewise, Mr Trump has imposed similar provocative tactics on Iran recently. He decided to withdraw the US from former-president Obama’s ‘Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’ as he believed it was “one-sided”. In its place, he instead decided to enforce pressure through economic sanctions which he believes will force a new better deal. This tactic could yet pay off; however, it seems highly risky considering the countless efforts Mr Obama had to put in to secure the previous deal in the first place.

Despite these questionable political moves, the main foreign-based issue on everyone’s lips is Russia. Ever since the beginning of Mr Trump’s presidency, his position has been questioned as allegations of Russian interference in the election have run amok. More worryingly, however, is the President’s refusal to accept that any interference was even attempted by the Russians. Mr Trump claims to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being truthful with regards to the allegations and in no way appears to emote any negative feelings to the possibility of foreign invasive meddling in the nation’s democratic process. His refusal goes even further than this too; Mr Trump decided to oppose his own Intelligence Agency who advised him of Russian interference at the recent July 2018 Helsinki Summit, instead deciding to side with Putin.

Coalition of Collusion? Trump (Left) and Putin (Right) appear to be best buddies.

Also, he fired the former director of the FBI James Comey following the persistent allegations. Comey is now pressing charges and seeks to reveal the alleged truth behind Trump’s seemingly suspicious sacking of the former director. Unfortunately, this is unsurprising considering Mr Trump’s disturbing closeness with a major Eastern power that has committed war crimes and is under sanctions from the US, which makes it hard not to question his position as a legitimately elected democratic leader and leaves him looking ominously guilty. Let us hope it is nothing more than a ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ type deal with Mr Putin, or we may be facing an attempted impeachment of enormous consequence and calamitous implications.

The list of negatives goes on from here. Two major promises he hasn’t managed to keep have been the nation’s promised healthcare reform and vast development of infrastructure. Mr Trump promised to rid Obamacare for a greater system; however, his lack of influential power in Congress meant that the Republicans were unable to repeal Mr Obama’s signature health care law. This could be seen as a positive though, due to the vast increases in the average Americans with health insurance that Obamacare has initiated. Although, from personal experience living in America and using the healthcare system, a complete re-thinking of the system could only benefit its people in the future.

The promises he has delivered on haven’t always been positive either. Hard-Border Immigration, for instance, has been one of Mr Trump’s most controversial policies. He enforced a travel ban that prohibited visas to citizens of seven largely-Muslim countries which was revised twice due to legal challenges and, most controversially, he imposed a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy to stop illegal immigrants on the Mexican-border, where an estimated 2,300 children were horrifically separated from their families. This resulted in a mass uproar by citizens and media throughout the world who condemned the actions until, on June 20th, Mr Trump signed an executive order to end family separations at the border. Plainly, this displays the ethics and moral nature of the President when he is willing to ignore human suffering by separating innocent children from their families and exposing them to extreme emotional trauma at such young ages. Admittedly, illegal immigrants should be dealt with accordingly; however, children are unable to understand the concept of boundaries and immigration. Thus, subjecting them to the same emotional and physical punishments as the adults is not acceptable and reflects badly on what the people of America represent as a nation and their chosen representative: President Trump.

The Shawshank Detention- Kids as young as three years old were incarcerated by Trump’s immigration policy.

Yet, negativity over Mr Trump’s actions does not stop there. Trump has placed significant tariffs on 34 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports and is threatening to apply them to all imports in the face of Chinese retaliation. This trade war could have serious economic and political consequences on America too, as China seeks to react with tariffs of its own and is the largest source of imports for 23 states, and 15 of these voted predominantly for Trump. Hence, this economic battle may have been an unwise decision on Trump’s part and could jeopardise the economic growth he has already nurtured throughout his presidency.

Finally, his apparent stance on global warming as a myth, his subsequent rescission of Obama’s environmental regulation, and his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement have left many in disbelief as to the future of the planet.

The Paris Agreement had proposed that countries work together to curb the global temperature rise by 2 degrees Celsius; however, Trump’s reaction was to state that the proposition was “draconian” and would cause a “very diminished quality of life” for Americans. This seems somewhat ridiculous and intensely selfish when we consider the effect that it will cause for, not only our generation, but for generations to come and Mr Trump’s own children perhaps. Although, when has the plight of children ever deterred the President before, *cough*, the Mexican border, *cough*. Mr Trump’s withdrawal, however, cannot come into full fruition until 2020, so with any luck perhaps he will be impeached by then.

All things considered, I believe that Trump’s reign can be judged either positively or negatively on only a nuanced basis. Despite his obvious worrying and sometimes diabolic faults, you can still not deny him his obvious economic triumphs and major foreign policy progress with North Korea and the Middle East, and this has all been due to the no-nonsense hard-line approach he has adopted. I wholeheartedly believe his methods of communication with the public and media are manipulative and, in some cases, divisive, as he seeks to mask controversy with more controversy.

Which news is fake and which news is true? Who knows anymore.

However, what I cannot deny is that all positives and negatives considered, he has initiated a new revolutionary approach to politics that has never been seen before and is somewhat of a lab-rat trial to see whether it works or not. His immature ludicrous performance-style, the immediacy of his social media connection with the world, and the sudden demeanour changes to severe hard-line threats of aggressive action seem almost farcical and unbelievable in many cases. Except, what I have just explicated in detail is a list of immensely positive political results (e.g. North Korea, Economy, ISIS), and majorly negative results (e.g. Russian interference and possible collusion, and the separation of children at the borders), that have still not managed to stop his run of power and don’t seem to have affected his support polls too highly. Mr Trump is a real-life test-subject of a philosophy and approach to political rule that has never been seen before or even contemplated as conceivable. Positive or negative, he has changed politics forever, and only the future will be the judge of whether this is for the better or, most likely, the worse.

(I mean if you can put children in jail and grab women by the genitalia and still not be that politically damaged then something’s surely wrong, SURELY?!)